To Pitch or Not To Pitch by Maree Anderson (for Writers Gone Wild)
I was wheeling my shopping trolley through the supermarket this morning and racking my caffeine-deprived brains for a topic to blog about today (as you do), and this question popped into my head. So I figured I'd run with it.
You see, I have a conference coming up in August. And, as per usual, our dedicated conference committee have convinced some amazing agents and editors to fly in from overseas to share their wisdom and among other things, take one-on-one face-to-face pitches.
Now I don't know 'bout you, but I find face-to-face pitches incredibly stressful. I can do all the prep in the world prior to the conference, but on the day I'm obsessively sneaking glances at my watch, shuffling my cue cards, trying to ignore my roiling stomach and do my best to ignore the fact that apparently I need to pee for the umpteenth time. (I gotta say, I recently hosted a writers talk in an art gallery auditorium and had to face up to a pretty good turn-out of attendees and I hardly felt nervous at all. That was fun! Pitching face-to-face? Not so much.)
And what all this means that I can't relax until after I've done the pitch. I don't get to enjoy or properly take in whatever talks or workshops I happen to be attending leading up to the pitch appointment. Not to mention I miss a goodly portion of whatever talk or workshop I happen to be in at the time when I have to duck out to check the board to make sure the pitch room hasn't changed, and then race up to stand outside that closed door, waiting for my opportunity to pitch.
Here's the kicker: after all that worrying and angst, there have been more than one occasion when I've duly sent off the partial or full I've had requested and I've never received a response--not even to my polite email or snail-mail follow-ups.
And here's the other thing: I'm not entirely convinced that some agents and editors attending small conferences like ours don't ask to see everyone's manuscripts just to be polite. (I don't blame them. It's a helluva lot easier to reject a manuscript via snail mail or email than straight out tell someone to their face that the answer will be no for whatever reason. It must be gut-wrenching. You couldn't pay me enough to take face-to-face pitches.)
And here's the really big thing: I have a YA that's been optioned for TV, and to date has had well over 1.4 million reads on Wattpad, and that I still hold all the ebook and print book rights for, plus another YA that has the full sitting with a Harlequin editor after she judged it in a contest, and I still can't interest an agent in me or my manuscripts. I guess I'm just not agent material. Or my writing really does suck. *wry grin*
And hey, that's okay. I've been in this business long enough that I get it, I really do. But I'm asking myself this: given my track record, is it worth paying all this money for a conference and accommodation (and missing out on my daughter's sixteenth birthday, too, I might add), and booking pitches which end up having a somewhat negative effect on my enjoyment of the conference, and will--let's be quite honest--probably come to nothing?
Or should I just go for the workshops and the talks and the networking and the catching up with friends (and the food!), and not book any pitches at all?